Australia has always been one of the more popular expat destinations and as such Australian expats answering our poll regarding social networking websites have given us an interesting insight into this particular arena. It is worth noting that the Australian government has recently announced plans to invest billions upon billions of dollars on a fast speed broadband network across Australia which should further improve access to services such as social networking websites.
There will be some interesting names in the list below which will surprise you and others which you would expect to be there. So, the most popular social networking sites in Australia, as used by expats, are as follows: –
It will come as no surprise to learn that many expats use Facebook as their social network of choice and indeed the fact that there are over 900 million users on a worldwide basis gives the operation a great start. It is believed that Facebook accounts in Australia number 10.7 million and as we touched on above they are likely to grow in number in the years ahead. So what does Facebook offer that no other social networking site can match?
Before we look at the nitty-gritty of Facebook and what it has to offer, perhaps the main reason why it has been so successful is that it does look ahead, it does move with the times and it does give users exactly what they want. There have been a number of changes to the Facebook design and Facebook services over the years, some have been well received and others not so well received, but ultimately the fact that the company itself was recently floated on the American stock market with a $100 billion pricetag says everything.
When you strip Facebook down to the bare bones it becomes evident that in effect it is your own real-time online diary. You can post messages, ask questions, private mail your friends and family and indeed post photographs and images. In simple terms you are able to keep in contact with friends and family 24 hours a day seven days a week and many of us will be well aware of how important these services are. The expat community has made great use of this particular social networking tool because it allows expats to keep in contact with friends and family members despite the fact they may be thousands of miles away.
It may surprise some to learn that LinkedIn is number two in the list of most favoured social networking sites in Australia. For those not aware of LinkedIn, it is a service which was launched back in May 2003 and initially targeted at the professional social networking arena. In fact it was launched as a business to business social networking site which would allow members to search for employment opportunities, post their skills and experiences and also speak to experts in certain fields. It was in effect a modern-day, online, real-time recruitment centre. However, over the years it has developed even more and now has in excess of 150 million registered users across 200 countries and is available in an array of different languages.
Despite the phenomenal success of the LinkedIn operation since launch in 2003 it recently experienced something of a hiccup when a gang of Russian hackers managed to steal 6.4 million member passwords and publish these on a Russian forum. The company immediately issued a news alert suggesting that all users should change their passwords as soon as possible to maintain security going forward and reduce the impact and potential difficulties associated with the stolen passwords. While this is certainly unfortunate for LinkedIn, as it caught the attention of the worldwide media, it is not the first social networking website to be hacked and it certainly will not be the last. Perhaps the major problem for LinkedIn in the short to medium term is the fact that because it was a business to business social networking operation there is perhaps more confidential and private information stored online than would normally be the case. It does also give us all a wake-up call with regards to the information which we post and publish online and indeed whether we should be more careful about this in the future.
The interesting thing about Twitter is the fact that nearly everybody who uses the Internet is aware of the company and the service but many people still believe it is a business orientated social networking operation. In many ways it was hijacked by the business arena and used to promote and announce new products to the marketplace but over the years it has developed into a very useful and very popular social networking operation which is different to the likes of Facebook, Google plus, etc.
Twitter was only launched back in March 2006 and already it has in excess of 140 million users who generate around 340 million “tweets” per day. Tweets are the short messages which are allowed on the Twitter service which are in effect short sharp messages very much shorter in length than those allowed on Facebook. However, you can also send private messages, post links, post photographs, etc, etc and build up your following and follow whoever you feel comfortable with. It is a social networking operation which has developed over the years and despite only being six years of age is perhaps one of the better-known social networking services available today.
Twitter does offer something slightly different from the traditional social networking websites although it is not to the liking of everybody. Sometimes it can be difficult to pick up on Tweets and specific information if you have a large number of followers or follow a large number of people. This “cluttered” affect is something which has put many people off using Twitter but the display and the services available today are very different to those originally on offer. Twitter, like all successful social networking websites, has developed over the years in line with its users.
MSN live (5.55%)
When we say MSN live you may be more familiar with the likes of Hotmail, Windows live, etc. These are services which Microsoft has created and released into the marketplace in years gone by although it has been forced to rebrand time and time again in an attempt to relaunch its social networking offering. It would be fair to say that aside from Hotmail, which allows you to talk real-time with friends and family, use web cams, exchange photographs and documents, etc, the social networking side of the Microsoft operation has been something of a letdown.
It is difficult to understand how the company missed out on this specific opportunity when it was flagged many years ago by the likes of Google and Facebook. Indeed while Google has been late to the party itself, after a number of false dawns, it has been able to leverage its access to search engine users to the benefit of the Google plus social networking operation. Microsoft on the other hand has been unable to replicate this success and many people believe that the company has left it far too late to make even the smallest dent in the social networking arena.
It will be interesting to see how the MSN live services develops in the months and years ahead because without significant investment it is difficult to see how it can make great strides in the short term. More and more people now believe that social networking operations will become as popular if not more popular than search engines in the future therefore Microsoft is seen by many to be at something of a crossroads. Quite why the company was so far behind the development curve is a matter for debate but this horse has most certainly bolted.
It was rather disappointing to see that forums received no votes from Australian expats in relation to the most popular social networking websites available today. There are many people who have predicted the death of forums across the Internet but the truth is that forums are very much alive and kicking today even if not in the Australian expat community!
Perhaps some of the major attractions of the forum sector are the fact that you can search on any subject matter and you can guarantee there will be a forum dedicated to this. The ability to ask questions of like-minded members and experts is for many in the expat community worth its weight in gold because it allows them to research and be more aware of their future homeland before they actually settle down. It is also a very interesting way to research the employment opportunities in your chosen future homeland so that you can adapt your approach to suit the circumstances.
The very fact that each and every post on each and every forum is indexed by Google also means that many questions which will be asked in the future will already have been asked in the past with the information readily available online. This means that if somebody else has asked the question which is on your mind the likelihood is the answer will be there before you even start typing. With regards to changes in the future there is also the opportunity to speak to people on the ground who have experience and can put your mind at rest.
Google plus (0%)
Again, it was slightly disappointing to see that Google plus received no votes from expats in Australia despite the fact that Google has invested significant time and money into this operation. This is not the company’s first foray into the social media and social networking society as a number of historic ventures have failed miserably. However, with Google plus only being launched back in June 2011, and having to be suspended until September because of excessive demand, the company has managed to catch the attention of social networking fans.
It is estimated that Google plus, which brings together services such as Google profiles, circles, hangouts and sparks, is currently attracting 600,000 new users each and every day and is on course to have in excess of 400 million active accounts by the end of 2012. The only downside for Google plus is the fact that users only spend on average 3.3 min per month on Google plus compared to 7.5 hours on Facebook. On the surface it is obvious that there is much scope for improvement and development of the Google plus service but the fact that the company has access to billions and billions of search engine users should help with the future success of the operation.
Some people believe that Google has abused its position as the most dominant search engine company in the world and while there may be an argument in favour of this there is no doubt that the company is able to leverage its exposure better than any other company on the Internet. Indeed, such has been the success of Google in a number of different areas of the online fraternity that it has attracted the attention of the authorities around the world who, like Microsoft in years gone by, appear determined to reduce the company’s influence on consumers and businesses.
While there was one entry with regards to other social networking websites this relates to Minecraft which is nothing but an online gaming community. Whether this comment was placed tongue in cheek is open to debate but there are other social networking websites available.
Many people will be surprised to learn that Facebook was not the first social networking website to take the Internet by storm with the likes of MySpace and Bebo very prominent in their day. These are companies which are still around at this moment in time although they are but a shadow of their former selves and have very limited market share. They do however perfectly reflect the fact that the social networking arena is a very volatile area of the Internet, can be impacted by various fashions and can also be very difficult to predict.
Only a few years ago it would have been easy to suggest that any new entrants to the social networking arena would have a chance of denting the market share of the likes of Facebook but such has been the success of this particular operation it is difficult to see how anybody could afford the investment required to enter the market. Facebook is now worth in excess of $100 billion and only recently we saw the company acquire a relatively unknown operation, which was a potential threat to a specific area of the Facebook operation, in a multibillion dollar deal. This perfectly illustrates the fact that the larger social networking websites now have the firepower to take out any potential competitors in the future.
The very fact that social networking websites are now evident right across the world and used by many people on a daily basis brings with it its own dangers. Information is one of the most valuable commodities and just the merest of glimpses at some of the more popular Facebook accounts will show you what kind of information is on offer. Too many people post too much private and confidential information onto their public pages which can be viewed by anybody including the criminal fraternity. There are also other issues to take into account which include: –
Are you one of these users who post their everyday movements on a regular basis using a mobile device? Do you let everybody know when you will be away on holiday? Are you inadvertently alerting local criminals that your house is empty? The law authorities have for many years now been trying to educate people about the type of information which they should publish on their social networking websites as well as the information they should not publish on their accounts.
In line with the type of information which you publish on your social networking account you may be placing yourself at risk of ID theft which can have severe consequences. Using public records readily available together with information on your social networking account it may be possible for criminals to put together a profile which they can use to apply for bank accounts, credit cards, etc in your name, often leaving you with large liabilities.
Fake profiles are also a major concern for many social networking fans because unless you are able to talk and see the person you are communicating with, are you 100% certain it is them? Criminals have on numerous occasions used fake profiles to gain the trust of certain individuals and gain access to private and personal information. Be very careful about what you publish on your social networking account and indeed who you speak to.
There is no doubt that the social networking arena has grown tremendously over the last few years and attracted the attention of various groups of the worldwide population. However, it is worth noting that social networking websites are of particular use to the expat community allowing people to stay in contact with friends and family members who may be thousands of miles away. They also offer interesting opportunities to speak to like-minded people who may be able to offer advice about specific elements of life in your new homeland and indeed what you should expect in the employment arena for example.
To many people the social networking arena is worth its weight in gold but there are also risks with regards to the amount and the type of information you make public and how this may be used by criminals. The very careful about what you publish on your public social networking accounts and who you speak to.